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Remember issues raised in referendum

The effort to give Ohio voters a chance to weigh in on a $1 billion nuclear bailout is dead. The coalition of natural gas interests, green energy advocates and others opposed to House Bill 6 can’t match the spending of the nuclear-plant bailout recipients and others who support the law, so the court battle over a possible referendum is over.

But the questions raised by the fight shouldn’t fade away: Should the state’s process for approving a ballot-issue petition be allowed to cut into the 90 days the Ohio Constitution gives bringers of such issues to collect the required signatures? And do lawmakers need to do something to prevent campaigners on either side of such issues from using abusive, anti-democratic tactics?

These questions arose because of the extraordinarily fierce and nasty fight over the effort to subject HB 6 to a referendum.

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If the issues that the HB 6 fight spawned are not to be resolved in the courts, the General Assembly should take a look at them. No one has accused Yost of foot-dragging for partisan reasons on the referendum petition, but the potential for any future attorney general clearly exists.

And unless some campaign guardrails go up, the resounding success of Ohioans for Energy Security’s nasty tactics is sure to breed more of the same in the future.

-— The Columbus Dispatch